Meeting my Trek Group & San Diego | Trek America Diary Days 1- 4

Hey Sweeties,

I apologise it’s taken a while, but I am now finally ready to be able to publish the first instalment of my recent Trek America Westerner 2 trip which saw me travel along the West Coast of America for 14 days.

Below are days 1-4, a lot has been covered so it’s worth getting yourself a brew before you sit down, but I hope you get a feel for what the early days of the trip were like. If you have any questions about Trek America and/or anything I saw etc. please feel free to leave a comment or contact me via my other channels.


Day 1: Meeting the group & San Diego

The flight here to Los Angeles was ok, a little bit of turbulence but more than anything it was just long and impossible to get comfortable. I watched 2 films –Inside Out & Pitch Perfect 2, and an episode of Modern Family before listening to an audio version of To Kill a Mockingbird. Beyond that it was just very, very boring and there’s only so many films I can consume.

Conveniently I was sat in front of two of my Trek buddies (to be at that point) -Verity and Hannah, so we travelled to The Custom Hotel together which involved catching the free shuttle bus from LAX (it does eventually arrive, you just need to be patient).

Thanks to my now thoroughly buggered body clock, I was wide awake this morning at 4am so my worries about having to wake up for a 7:30am group meet went out the window, lol! All I can say is thank goodness for free hotel wifi and YouTube!

Asides from Verity and Hannah, I met Becky in our room at the hotel, so this morning I just had the boys (Tom & Kay from Germany, and a chap from South Korea who affectionately became known as Mr Chow), and our trek leader (Lana) to meet. All so far, lovely. Phew!

The Custom Hotel is perfectly fine for a stop over hotel. The room was clean and the beds very comfortable so I am not sure what people complain about really as there is the odd Trek review that is a bit dismissive of the hotel. At 07:30 we met everyone downstairs and got briefed by Lana before we loaded up the van and made our way into Hollywood.

Well let me just say that Hollywood is very underwhelming, I think it’s Hollywood Boulevard that we walked along to see the stars on the floor and also went into a mall area to look out to the famous Hollywood sign. That was actually really great to see but the rest of it was quite run down if I am honest, so I wasn’t at all bothered that we only spent 45-50 minutes there before jumping back in the van and making our way down to San Diego.

Hollywood Boulevard

We arrived at the campsite (Campland on the Bay) and had the tents set up by about 15:15 ish and unfortunately it had started raining. Lana suggested that rather than cook at camp, we head into town and go for drinks and dinner at a Mexican restaurant she had been recommended, which we all agreed would be excellent, so we did. However I don’t think we appreciated how tired we all were and having agreed Lana would leave us after dinner and pick us up later at 10pm, we regretted that decision quickly. However, despite tiredness, the drinks were terrible and so strong (American measures are ridiculous) or really not that nice to taste which of course affected us and our enjoyment of the evening. I couldn’t wait for Lana to arrive and fell asleep on the drive back to camp and promptly once back in my tent. Note to self: Try and get another sleeping mat and buy a proper pillow.

Day 2: San Diego Zoo

This morning I was wide awake around 5:30am although I must have managed to snooze a little bit until around 7:30 when I decided to get up and go to the toilet and get myself ready for a day at San Diego Zoo with Becky. However, as I was walking back to the tent, it began raining, lightly to begin with then no sooner had I got back and zipped up my tent door, the heavens opened.

Wet San Diego

We were told you get the best weather in San Diego…

It rained heavily for a good hour so we had a bit of a wet breakfast but it began to clear and by the time Becky and I were dropped at the San Diego Zoo, despite the odd shower, it remained dry.

San Diego Zoo

San Diego zoo, was brilliant! Within the 1st hour of being there we had seen a polar bear and the resident panda cub which alone was worth the $44 entry fee! There was lots to see and we easily spent the 5.5 hours walking around seeing everything, I would definitely recommend visiting San Diego Zoo if you’re ever here.

Polar Bear, San Diego zoo

Polar Bear

Panda, San Diego ZooMere Cats, San Diego Zoo

On return to camp, Group A (Verity, Hannah & Kay) cooked dinner and afterwards Group B (Tom, Mr Chow & me) washed up. Going forward this will alternate each evening. The last couple of hours were spent around the camp fire just chatting which was lovely.

Day 3: Salvation Mountain, Sand dunes & a lot of driving

This morning I was woken up around 3am as I could here one of the neighbouring campers walking around, but I did doze on and off until we had to be up about 5:45 to shower, take down the tents and have breakfast before piling into the van and heading to the Colorado river, about 360 miles away from San Diego.

A couple of hours into the drive, we diverted off the track to by pass Salvation Mountain;  a big art installation type thing, built over two decades in the 80s by a bloke called Leonard Knight and has been added to by people in the years since. It quite honestly can only be described as a man made mound, covered in poster paint, with religious sayings and things dotted all over it. It is the most bizarre thing I have ever seen but weirdly one of the most fantastic.

Salvation Mountain

Salvation Mountain; the most random man-made thing you’ll ever see in the middle of nowhere!

A short while afterwards we then suddenly came across sand dunes, slap bang in the middle of the desert and again, it was just something else that can only be described as phenomenal!  The heat was intense and although I have never been, it’s exactly how I image the Sahara desert to be like. Incredible!

Sand DunesSand Dunes, Trek America

Despite the distance covered, the day hasn’t dragged at all and the drive wasn’t that uncomfortable, even managed a couple of naps which were much needed. Arriving at the Colorado river campsite (River Island -the prettiest so far as our tents back up against mountains), we instantly all got into our swim suits and went swimming in the river for a bit before setting up the tents and having dinner. While others are sat playing poker, I am taking some much needed downtime in my tent and will probably call it a day soon.

River Island, Colorado River

The only bad thing about this camp is that the place is covered with flies, owing to being so close to the river, which is a nightmare. We don’t think they’re the biting kind but they are frickin’ everywhere which is a bit nasty. The showers and toilets aren’t the best either…

Day 4: Arriving at the Grand Canyon

I am a little bit annoyed with myself, I’m sat in my tent writing this, pretty much shut down for the night (it’s 7:40pm) and the others (from what I can tell) are sat around the camp fire mingling with another group that are sharing our campsite tonight. They sound like a great bunch of people but I shy away/get intimidated by new groups and while I told myself I would be different on this trip, I am accepting of how I am and tonight I am just not feeling it. Social anxiety is a bugger but sometimes there is just no use fighting it.


Today was another early start where we had packed up and breakfast eaten by around 7am and were on the road soon afterwards. We did a quick stop at London Bridge (yes, really) before travelling on and stopped again at Selikman on Route 66 for a mooch about and an early lunch. We arrived at the Grand Canyon -or rather the airport for the helicopter tours- a little before 1pm as the group were booked on to a tour at 13:45. Again, slightly saddened I didn’t share the experience of seeing the canyon by helicopter but I did a similar trip a couple of years ago so no need to spend $250 on something I have already seen.

We had an early dinner (of sausage and mash) before heading off to watch the sunset over the canyon. On arrival which was a short drive from the campsite, we were told to put paper bags over our heads and led to the rim, then on the count of 3, took them off and took in the almighty view of the Grand Canyon in the final minutes of daylight. It was spectacular and regardless to how many times you may have witnessed it before, the canyon still takes your breath away by its beauty and size. Tomorrow is a free day and we’re off hiking so I am excited to really explore the area.

Grand Canyon, Trek America

I’m the one with the yellow shorts…

Grand Canyon, SunsetGrand canyon, Trek America

As a group, I feel we’re getting closer as time goes on which is great to feel as every now and again I get a sense of it as we’re driving or in conversation. Part of me wanted to see a new part of myself while away and if I am honest, I don’t think I am, I know me really well and I am comfortable with myself. I do get frustrated that I am not better socially, but I just do better in smaller, more intimate groups and I really do need that time to relax around people. I might be different another week from now but most likely, I won’t be. But I am cool with that.

The day after tomorrow we’re heading to Las Vegas and I think there is a real excitement and anticipation about the time we’re going to have there. So far, I like how this trip is going.

Stay tuned for the next instalment of the trip next week.



  1. Jabeen Waheed 9th November 2015 / 9:23 am

    I’m doing the Southerner in December and I’m so looking forward to it. However, I hear you on the anxiety bit. I have three weeks with new people and I really want to dig in and have no regrets- just hope my body and mind lets me in the moment!
    Jabeen x

    • Claire 9th November 2015 / 1:59 pm

      You’ll have such a great time! You’ll also surprise yourself with how much you overcome and with regards to meeting new people, you’ll no doubt find common interests. The biggest challenge I think with these trips is to keep the group as a group -of course some will get on better with others but if for the most part you can all hang out together, do! I can’t wait to hear all about your trip 🙂

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